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Old 01-28-2010, 10:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hairball.

I need help, I really don't know what to do about this. Stitch has had a hairball that he's been trying to get up for four days now, but it just won't come up. I have a cat grass plant that is suppose to help with hairballs, we have dry food thats suppose to help with hairballs (I'm not sure if the wet food does or not though.) and he's been drinking plenty of water, but he just can't get it up! Should I take him to the vet? Is there anything they can do about it? I'm scared that once he does get it up, he might choke on it or something. Does anyone have any ideas? Please comment and leave your suggestions!
Thank you!
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

A blob of vaseline or commercial hairball remedy (which is just flavored vaseline) a couple days in a row. Give between meals or it can interfere with nutrient absorption.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

What is he doing?
Is he coughing/hacking constantly, or is it an occasional coughing episode?

Sometimes my cats will do a strange cough-thing, that is *not* related to herking-up a hairball. They will cough a very 'dry' sounding, but gentle, and sometimes rattling, kind of cough. Their head/neck will be extended, point of tongue sticking out, weaving their head from side to side and after a short time of coughing, will lick their lips a lot and swallow while sort of quickly extending their head/neck, almost like someone swallowing in a 'gulp' trying to get something down their throat.
When my cats do that, I think of it as maybe they got a loose hair tickling in there. Sometimes they *will* vomit up some stuff, if they had food in their belly and their coughing disturbed it ... but mostly it is just that dry cough, a couple licks and swallows and then they're good-to-go. I can sometimes offer a small bit of milk for them to lap up and it is usually enough of a distraction that by the time they lap up and swallow the first bit of liquid, it is enough to flush that stray hair down their throat and it will either come back up with its' friends as a hairball or exit at the other end.

If it is a hairball, it will either pass or come up. In order to do either, it has to fit through the openings and if it fits through the opening, it will fit through either the esophogus or the intestines. I have not heard of a cat requiring surgery to remove a hairball from the stomach, and as long as he is eating/drinking and behaving normally, I think I'd just keep an eye on him.
When my kitties start to do that dry-hair-cough-thing, I be sure to sweep/vacuum/clean more often and will brush them to remove loose hair before they groom it off themselves.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

He's having an occasional coughing episode. It sounds exactly like when a cat is trying to cough up a hairball, but he's doing it a lot. Sometimes, he'll get up and jump off my bed and lower his head while he's doing it, other times he sits up and lowers his head. Usually though, no matter where he's sitting or laying, he lowers his head and tries to work it up. I'm fairly certain that he is trying to get a hairball up, but for some reason; he just can't work it up. It seems to happen more at night when he's trying to sleep though. The only thing I've noticed to be different about him, is he seems to be drinking more water than he normally does.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

Is he *coughing* or is he making the "herk-herk-herk" noise while his abdomen is heaving in preparation for vomitting?
I believe there is a difference.
If he is just coughing, I'd probably try cleaning up and brushing him to remove loose hair. My kitties who do the hair-tickle-cough-thing will sometimes wake up out of a sleep to cough and clear their throat. If he is herk-herk-herking and not being productive you may need to have the vet look at him, but I would make sure I knew which he was doing before I took him to the vet.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

Ditto what Heidi said about the brushing and a little bit of milk - my girls have never coughed up a hairball in over a year that I've had them, but sometimes they will go through a couple of weeks where they cough a lot more like they're trying to get one up. Fern's doing it right now - it's kind of a wheezy cough, and like Heidi said it's almost like she's got a hair stuck in her throat that's tickling and bothering her. I've been brushing her daily for the last week and offering her a small bit of milk when she does cough, and it's definitely helping. The incidents have gone from multiple times a day to nothing in the last few days, so I really do think that simply helping to reduce the hair the cat ingests makes a huge difference.

I notice this more mid-winter and mid-summer, when they seem to be in a transition phase with their fur. Right now it's cold and dry and I think they're shedding a little more because of slightly dry skin, while in the middle of summer they shed more when it gets really warm and they turn into noodles to cope with the heat.
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

It's the "herk-herk-herk" noise while his stomach is heaving.
It reminds me of when you get the flu and you're dry-heaving really badly before you can actually vomit. (Not a very good mental image, but that's exactly what he's doing.)
I've been attempting to brush him more often, and I bought this thing that they can walk through and it brushes out their hair when they walk through it; he loves it!
The only problem with brushing him is that he seems to think the comb/brush is a toy and bats at it or tries to bite it when I'm trying to brush him. I'm sure that if I keep up with brushing him and get rid of some of the excess hair on him that it'll get better. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to teach him that the brush isn't a toy? Usually if I make a little 'psst' noise when he does something wrong, he knows that he's not suppose to do it and he usually leaves whatever it is alone - but it doesn't seem to work with the brush. Any ideas?

-- If this doesn't work and he's still doing it in a couple of days, then I will set up a vet appointment.
Thanks for all your help so-far!
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

Ah! Then he *is* trying to vomit up something ... but it doesn't necessarily have to be a hairball. Does he bring anything up? Sometimes, my cats will vomit up liquid (water) or a yellow/foamy bile. None of those incidents were regular and they didn't need to see the vet. In most of those incidents, my cats had either been playing/roughhousing too hard and/or had recently ate/drank and that much exercise so soon after eating upset their tummies. Because your kitty is doing this often and regular, I think you may want to talk to your vet about it. Also, check what he is eating and consider if he is allergic to some of the ingredients. Perhaps a diet change would be beneficial for him?
I am *not* educated about feeds/feeding, but others here have a lot of knowledge and could help guide you and/or you could check out the health/nutrition forum and see what a search brings up.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:13 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

He doesn't actually bring anything up. That's what has me so concerned. He's been trying for about a week now, but I haven't found any vomit anywhere. I'm pretty sure it's not his diet, but I will try and talk to a few other people about his food and see if maybe that is the problem. Thanks for the help though. :]
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hairball.

Well, I wish I could have been more helpful, I feel like I didn't really help with anything, because we aren't any closer to knowing *why* he's doing this...
Do let us know if you ever find out what it is, you could help others who are having similar problems, with the information you share.
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